Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:03

A Bride in Name Only

Written by  Sam Whatley
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In April, 1956 C. S. Lewis of England married Joy Davidman of the United States in a civil ceremony. But she became a bride in name only. And even that was a secret. Her British visa had expired and she was facing deportation to America with her two young sons, knowing that her violent, alcoholic, ex-husband would be waiting for them. She needed desperately to find another place to live and decided to become a British citizen.

C. S. Lewis, the eminent Christian theologian, medieval scholar, and author of many books, sympathized with the plight of this woman and her children. He had met her through her letters years before. She had read and admired several of his books, especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She, too, was a writer and editor. So when she arrived at his doorstep in 1952, he was pleased to meet someone who shared many of his interests. Joy was witty and intelligent. She was married then, but her marriage was in shambles. As time went by, she returned to the United States, was divorced, and came back to England in 1956.


What Joy proposed to Lewis was a secret marriage. As a confirmed bachelor, he did not look at this as romance, but a way to protect this lady and her children. After all, no one would have to know. They would continue to live in separate houses and maintain their separate lives. He would continue teaching literature at Cambridge University and live with his brother, as he had for years. At least, that’s the way it started out.


But a few months after the secret civil wedding, Joy was stricken with bone cancer. She was in constant pain and needed care around the clock. C. S. Lewis moved the three of them into his house. The university professor spent many hours with Joy, taking her to the doctor and hospital. During these months Lewis discovered something. He had fallen in love with his wife.


When it seemed she would surely die, he proposed a Christian wedding. They said their vows in December, 1956 at the side of her hospital bed.


Then Joy’s cancer went into remission and for three years the happy couple enjoyed being together. They traveled a lot and wanted everyone to know they were married. But the cancer came back. Joy Davidman Lewis passed away in 1960 and C. S. Lewis died three years later.


This story of two weddings reminds me of the two-fold experience of many Christians. The Bible calls Christian believers the bride of Christ.  John the Apostle quotes the multitudes of heaven in Revelation 19:7 as saying: For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of saints.)


And Jesus says in Matthew 22:2: The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.


This symbolism of bride and groom referring to God (or Christ) and His people is implied throughout the Old and New Testaments. Which brings me to this two-stage experience in the Christian life.


Many of us, perhaps most of us, come to Christ early in life without giving much thought to the effect that decision will have on our lives. Maybe we went to a church because our mother or grandmother went there. Maybe we were baptized. But at some point we have to decide for ourselves if we really believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Do we really believe He died for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven? Can we accept his forgiveness and surrender our lives to Him?


Once we say, “Yes!” and realize the power of God’s love, everything changes. We are no longer the secret bride who doesn’t want anyone to know she is married. Now we want everyone to know we belong to the Lord. We want to celebrate, not only who He is, but also who we are in Him.  If you are sharing your life with the King, tell others about it. They need Him too.






Last modified on Thursday, 07 May 2015 15:12
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